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Search for answers starts after 41 injured in train crash near Düsseldorf

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Search for answers starts after 41 injured in train crash near Düsseldorf
The scene of the accident photographed by a drone on Wednesday. Photo: DPA.
08:30 CET+01:00
German investigators on Wednesday were working to determine what caused the collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the city of Düsseldorf that left 41 people injured.

Seven of those hurt were badly injured in Tuesday's accident, while one person was in a serious condition, the local Meerbusch fire department said in an updated toll.

A total of 173 people were on board the National Express regional train when it smashed into a DB Cargo train around 7:30 pm near Meerbusch-Osterath station in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.

Rescue workers and officials praised the driver for slamming on the emergency brake as soon as he noticed an obstacle on the tracks, likely preventing a much bigger collision.

"We were very lucky," said spokesman Marcel Winter of Britain's National Express. "It could have been much worse."

The driver was unharmed but in a state of shock, police said.

Images from the Tuesday's late night scene showed moderate damage to the passenger train's first carriage, while the other blue-and-white carriages appeared largely unaffected.

The train remained standing upright on the tracks.

Some of the cargo train carriages however were thrown off the rails as a result of the impact.

Passengers recounted hearing a loud bang when the two trains collided but 19-year-old Lukas Kehler said people remained calm.

"There was no sense of panic," he told local television station WDR.

The crash sparked a large rescue operation but access to the train was initially hindered by ruptured electric cables which first had to be made safe, according to the Meerbusch fire department.

Rescue workers were able to reach those injured by 9:15 pm, with the last people evacuated from the train just after midnight.

Firefighters at the National Express train that crashed on Tuesday. Photo: DPA.

The federal police have launched a probe to determine the cause of the crash.

Police officials and the state interior ministry told DPA news agency it was too early to speculate about what may have gone wrong.

The regional express train was travelling from the western city Cologne to the town of Krefeld while the stationary cargo train was bound for Rotterdam.

National Express is the only private rail operator active in North Rhine-Westphalia, where it has been running two regional services since 2015.

Germany's deadliest train accident happened in 1998 when a high speed train derailed in Eschede in Lower Saxony, killing 101 people.

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